Tasik Kenyir ( Kenyir Lake) is currently the largest man-made lake in
South-east Asia. It was created by the building of the Sultan Mahmud Dam
and the drowning of forests to fill it.
Spanning more than 210,000 hectares, the lake area is in fact one and half times larger than Pulau Pinang (Penang Island).
The lake itself contains about 340 islands that were formerly highlands and hills drowned by the water, and around the lake there are more than 14 rivers with numerous streams and waterfalls that flow into the lake.
Located in the Malaysian state of Trengganu, this huge lake of Malaysia shares its borders with Pahang in the south and Kelantan in the west, and is an access point to Taman Negara (National Park) from Trengganu, via Pengkalan Gawi (Gawi Jetty) and Petang Island.
Adventure And Fun
You can take a fun cruise in the lake, and you can do this via the many river-boat operators at the Pengkalan Gawi (Gawi Jetty) area.
You can choose either the speed-boats, cruise-boats or the boat-houses that cater for the keen anglers.
The boathouses travel to waterfalls and fishing sites proving an exhilarating adventure for nature lovers.
There are sites for camping and jungle trekking for those who are more adventurous.
Spelunking or caving enthusiasts come to Tasik Kenyir to explore the limestone caves of Bewah and Taat. It takes about 2 hours to reach the caves from Pengkalan Gawi.
Taat had originally three caves but the lowest is now submerged when the dam water raised. Known as Tok Bidan Cave, this was the site where in the 1970's archaeologists found artifacts dating back to the Neolithic period.
And recent findings at Bewah Cave of skeletons and artifacts dating back to 16,000 years to the Mesolithic age have attracted historians and archaeologists to the area.
The areas around Lake Kenyir have many waterfalls, with spectacular ones being the Lasir Waterfalls, Tembat Waterfalls and Saok Waterfalls.
Lancang Waterfalls (Air Terjun Lancang) is at Petuang, and rapids at Lata Terap. The Sungai Buweh waterfalls is also nearby, about 5.5 kilometers from Pengkalan Gawi, while many other small waterfalls can be seen along the Gawi-Kuala Koh road, north of the lake.
Birds are plentiful, with more than 230 species, both resident and migratory, recorded and observed.
There are nine species of hornbills to be seen there and raptors, like Wallace's Hawk Eagle and Grey-headed Fish Eagle.
A popular destination for birders at Lake Kenyir is the forested and some open areas of the 6 kilometers-long Sungai Buweh recreational road, located just a few minutes drive from Pengkalan Gawi.
There are many stops and lay-byes for birders and bird-watchers to park their vehicles along the route.
Of course butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, insects, reptiles and amphibians are common in the Tasik Kenyir area. It is indeed a wildlife and nature-lover's haven.
Other wildlife that can sometimes be seen in the surrounding forests include otters, macaques, tapirs, white-handed gibbons, sumatran rhinoceros, Asian elephants, wild cats, panther, malayan tiger and sun-bears.
The Kelah Sanctuary, covering an area of more than 407 hectares, is a gazetted protected zone for the preservation and breeding of local Malaysian Mahseer (kelah) and fresh-water fishes, and therefore fishing in the area is strictly prohibited. Of course the encounters with the fishes living there is an experience to remember.
It is believed that the Lake Kenyir area is home to more than 8,000 species of flowers, 2,500 species of plants and trees, 800 species of orchids, and 300 species of fungus.
There are more than 200 types of traditional and indigenous herbal plants that are grown there.
If you wish to know how Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah, Mas Cotek, Haji Samad or Misai Kucing and other popular Malay traditional herbs look like, visit this Tasik Kenyir Herbal Park. Entrance is free.
There you can even self-serve and try the warm drink of Tongkat Ali and Kacip Fatimah (traditional aphrodisiacs for men and women respectively) that are made available free for visitors. A warning here though -- the drinks taste a little bitter, as all medicines.
There are many resorts around the lake with different facilities and standards, such as the Lake Kenyir Resort and Spa at Gawi Jetty, Petang Island Resort at Petang island, and Uncle John Resort at Lasir.
Or you can also camp out as there are campsites with basic facilities at the various waterfalls and attraction spots.
Find out in this link some of the popular Terengganu hotels and resorts and find the best deals available.
From Kuala Lumpur, the shortest route is via Kuantan, taking the Jerangau-Jabor Highway to the town of Ajil and Kuala Berang, and then it is about 35km to Pengkalan Gawi (Tasik Kenyir).
Another alternative is by taking the coastal road through Kemaman, Dungun, Kuala Terengganu and then Kenyir Lake.
For those coming from the north, head towards Kuala Terengganu, then make your way to Kampung Kuala Jeneris before reaching Lake Kenyir.
If you don’t fancy driving, then there is the Tasik Kenyir Express Coach Service departing from Kuala Lumpur which drops you off at the Tourism Center at Pengakalan Gawi.
Take care of the environment, and enjoy.
The placid waters plus the tranquility and serenity of the atmosphere at Lake Kenyir make it one of the best places to while away your stress, strains and sorrows, and to re-charge, soothe and uplift your body, while reflecting on the greatness of the Creator and marvelling at His creatures and creations, wildlife and nature.
Take care of the environment, and enjoy.